News Toyota Forms $2.8 Billion Company Focused on Autonomous-Driving Tech

15:02  11 march  2018
15:02  11 march  2018 Source:   MSN

Toyota's boxy e-Palette may be the shareable future of transport

  Toyota's boxy e-Palette may be the shareable future of transport The e-Palette concept previews a future where autonomous vehicles are flexible and seamlessly shareable between people and businesses for a variety of uses.Much of the automotive news at CES this year are platform announcements, broad looks at the technologies, software, sensors and partnerships that will underpin future mobility. The e-Palette is interesting because it's both an announcement of a mobility alliance and future platform, but it's also by design the physical embodiment of that platform: A sort of blank slate for a variety of transportation needs.

a silver and black car© Toyota

Toyota wants to get self-driving cars on the road sooner rather than later, so it's forming a new company that will focus specifically on development. The Japanese automaker is teaming up with Aisin Seiki Co. and Denso Corporation to form Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development, or TRI-AD (because it's the joint effort of three companies, get it?).



The goal of TRI-AD is to create "fully-integrated, production-quality software for automated driving," a Toyota press release said. Toyota, Aisin Seiki, and Denso are still working out some of the details of the joint effort, but they have already agreed to invest 300 billion yen ($2.8 billion).

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TRI-AD will be headquartered in Tokyo, and will have 1,000 employees, including a mix of new hires and employees shifted over from the new company's three backers. Dr. James Kuffner, currently chief technology officer of the Toyota Research Institute, will be TRI-AD's CEO. He said the new company will recruit "world-class software engineers" and will search for them globally.

The Toyota Research Institute has led Toyota's autonomous car efforts so far. It's built a handful of development mules based on the previous-generation Lexus LS, and even equipped one with two steering wheels to test the process of passing control between a human driver and the machine.

Toyota is testing a prototype system that is fully-autonomous, and one that only intervenes when it determines that the human driver needs help. But the automaker's production autonomous vehicles may leave humans out of the loop.

At CES 2018, Toyota unveiled the e-Palette concept, a nondescript box on wheels designed for sharing services. The automaker has recruited a team of companies to develop the e-Palette and potential businesses for it.

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I (Erik here) have never been to Las Vegas, which I’m told is both kind of exhilarating in addition to being extremely bleak. Strangely, I’ve been told the same thing about CES, which I’ll be in Vegas to cover this year with Ryan Felton. Here’s the car stuff we’re excited about! CES used to be called the Consumer Electronics Show but now is just called CES, with letters that don’t stand for anything. This is in part because the scope of the show has expanded so considerably since the first CES was held 50 years ago in New York City.

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